Showing posts with label Bible and sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible and sex. Show all posts

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Great Sex Rescue – Challenging Harmful Evangelical Messages

 



The Great Sex Rescue

Challenging Harmful Evangelical Messages

  By Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, & Joanna Sawatsky

 

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

Review Summary

The Great Sex Rescue is an evangelical Christian approach that challenges messages in several other Christian sex books, which do not focus on the sexual pleasure of women. In addition, the three writers challenge messages that emphasize dutiful wives meeting their husband’s sex needs regardless of how she feels or what aspects of a sexual experience would bring her more wholistic pleasure. When biblical texts have been interpreted in unfriendly ways, the authors offer a more woman-friendly interpretation. More troubling are Christian sexual activity messages that may encourage men to simply use their wives for their pleasure or even abuse them. After explaining their concerns, the authors offer suggestions for better sex including addressing medical problems that can interfere with sexual pleasure.

The Great Sex Rescue Review

 

Who needs rescuing from sex or great sex?

I read an article about The Great Sex Rescue in Christianity Today that grabbed my attention. I am somewhat acquainted with Christian views on sex having published A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Culture a few years ago. I also noticed that they had conducted a large survey, which as a psychologist peaked my interest. And of course, as a licensed psychologist I had treated individuals and couples for sex-linked concerns. So, what were they writing about?

            In chapter 1 we see their foundational concern.

 “Many Christians simply aren’t experiencing amazing,

 mind-blowing, earth-shattering, great sex.

 We want to change that.”

Sheila notes the importance of evidence-based treatments—that’s something of great importance to psychologists as well. The authors are familiar with Christian books that offer couples advice about sex. Here’s the rescue part of their theme:

 

“We want to rescue couples from teachings that

have wrecked sex  and put you back

 on the road to great sex—

because that’s what you should be having!”

            So what can readers expect to discover?

 Their 7-point proposal introduces us to their concept of a healthy sex life. I’ll just offer the key words following the lead phrase “Sex should be…”

personal

pleasurable

pure

prioritized

pressure-free

put the other first

passionate

What kind of research did they do?

I’ll just list the four methods.

1. A 130-item survey of 22,000 Christian women

2. A review of academic research studies of evangelicalism and sexuality

3. Focus groups and interviews

4. Reading and review of popular Christian books about sex and marriage and other influential books

 

For readers who tend to avoid research, let me say that the book is well-written and reader friendly. When they present the results of their survey, they avoid complicated statistics in favor of percentages of women who responded in many ways to their survey items. Compact charts reveal the highlights, which I think would be a great way to for leaders to encourage discussions in small groups.

What is so bad about sex that Christian women and men need to be rescued?

I like the way they attacked the problem of troublesome messages. They created a rubric to score popular sex and marriage books according to a set of criteria—just like research professors teach their students. Each of the three sections below consists of four items which the authors used to rate the 14 books on a 0-4 scale.

1. Infidelity and Lust

2. Pleasure and Libido

3. Mutuality

After the authors scored the books, they divided them into three categories:

Helpful Books

Neutral Books

Harmful Books

The top two of the Helpful Books were:

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner.

The lowest of the seven Harmful Books were:

Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

If you are interested in the details, see the Appendix to The Great Sex Rescue and see the resources on the book’s website https://baremarriage.com/gsr-rubric/

As you read through the chapters, you find quotes from their research that illustrate the problems with harmful messages about sex and marriage. They stress the importance of considering a woman’s emotional and physical wellbeing during sex. The best relationships are mutual instead of one-sided as in the common evangelical message of men as the head of the household in an unequal relationship with his wife. Also, sex ought to be by consent rather than taken without considering the wife’s feelings. Consent is not only about having sex but it includes consenting to the type of sex. One important emphasis is a warning against messages that encourage, or fail to condemn abuse or even marital rape.

The authors report problems with beliefs that sex is a wife’s duty, which interferes with a couple enjoying great sex. They also make the point that frequency of sex is not a substitute for quality. Frequency can be a false metric when counselors find that a couple has more sex after an intervention that focused on encouraging a wife to give her husband more sex using messages aimed at creating a sense of duty or teaching that men need relief to avoid looking at porn or having an affair.

Readers will also find helpful suggestions for reasons they might not experience an orgasm during sex. Some problems deal with relationship factors and foreplay but there are medical and psychological conditions as well (e.g., vaginismus).

Who might profit from this book?

My best guess is that this book will be most meaningful for Christians who generally identify with an evangelical type of Christianity, lean toward agreement with the idea that women and men are equal, and feel uncomfortable with the sex messages from the purity culture movement and related Christian sex and marriage books daubed harmful by the authors. It is possible that progressive Christians who have not been subjected to the negative messages of purity culture may find some parts of the book helpful as well. I also think the book might be useful as a recommended reading by Christian counselors who wish to suggest an alternative approach for their evangelical patients.

How do the authors integrate Christianity and sexuality?

The integration of Christianity and their views on sexuality does not appear to be a primary focus of The Great Sex Rescue. What the writers offer evangelical readers are different views on the oft quoted biblical texts used by some conservative Christians to favor meeting men’s sexual desires and ignoring a woman’s desire for a wholistic sexual experience.

The authors refer to the familiar Genesis and Ephesians texts about creation and marriage relationships. I’m not a bible scholar yet it seems some of the authors’ interpretations go a bit too far in terms of the meaning of select biblical texts that have been misused to the detriment of women. For example, when referring to the biblical translation of know for having sex the authors use it as a springboard for a tripartite approach to knowing as intimacy to include spiritual, emotional, and physical dimensions. I also do not find it useful to think of God as a designer of sex though I do not doubt this notion would be appealing to some readers.

The authors present the evangelical view of sex framed in traditional creation language suggesting a literal view of the creation story as God creating people in his image, although they do not elucidate the concept of God’s image. They claim God designed sex to be pleasurable. This approach to the Bible would be familiar to evangelical readers but is not consistent with scientific approaches to human evolution in general or to sexual selection in particular unless the writers intend for their biblical references to be taken as metaphors or other figures of speech.

In contrast to the authors’ views, the official position of most Christian groups does not interpret the Bible in a way that supports the equality of women and men. Obviously, only a small number of groups allow women to become ordained clergy or be in authority positions over a man. And many groups refer to the male-head-of-household texts to assert that men and not women are the head of the household. Frankly, although progressive writers have argued from various biblical texts to justify the equality of men and women, such arguments have yet to alter the prevailing view steeped in centuries of tradition and bolstered by many texts that limit women’s roles in the church and the home. Unfortunately for healthy marriages and good sex, the idea of equality of men and women in the home remains rare among Christians.

Previously I mentioned the quality of their rubric for rating Christian books about sex and marriage. I think it worth mentioning that none of the 12 items in the tripartite rubric mentioned anything about God, biblical texts, or Christianity. And the best sex book at the top of the list was a secular work by John Gottman who really has done excellent work when it comes to evidence-based approaches to relationship health.

How do the authors present an evidence-based approach?

As a psychologist, an evidence-based approach may mean something a bit different from the authors’ views. In general, evidence-based psychotherapies are those that have been tested and found to be reliably effective for a specific purpose when compared to control or comparison groups. I do not see experimental studies that document the validity of their recommendations for great sex.

However, in a broad sense, the authors could mean that they have relied on evidence from their survey to reach various conclusions and they have identified strategies from the literature, which they include in their chapters. They also challenge the recommendations of several books as either lacking evidence, causing harm, or both.

Having supervised clinicians, it is certainly not unheard of to find clinicians relying on experience when suggesting ways to help patients cope more effectively. The best clinicians will collect data from their patients to determine the efficacy of their suggestions. In this context, the copyright page offers a disclaimer as follows:

“This publication is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subjects addressed. It is not intended to replace the advice of trained health care professionals.”

 

Comments

Respectfully worded readers’ comments that correct errors in this review, offer suggestions, or another point of view may be published. Hostile comments and advertising or links to personal and business websites are not published.

 

Cite this review

Sutton, G. W. (2022, September 23). The great sex rescue—a review. SuttonReviews. Retrieved from https://suttonreviews.suttong.com/2022/09/the-great-sex-rescue-challenging.html


 

Reference

Gregoire, S. W., Lindenbach, R. G., & Sawatsky, J. (2021). The great sex rescue: The lies you’ve been taught and how to — recover what God intended—. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. On AMAZON

 

Related book reviews

See the list book list Sex and Religion

See also

A HOUSE DIVIDED


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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Sex Morality and Religion Book Reviews

 


BOOKS on SEX & RELIGION

[Most, but not all, focus on the Christian Faith]

Book Review List

I read several books along with research articles when I wrote A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures. Following is a list of book summaries and reviews and availability of the books.


 A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures by Geoffrey W. Sutton


Read Reviews


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Christian Morality: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Thinking about Contemporary Moral Issues by Geoffrey W. Sutton and Brandon Schmidly, editors  




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  Authentic Human Sexuality by Judith & Jack Balswick (links to 3rd edition)


Read Review

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  God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says  by Michael Coogan  

Read Review 

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The Great Sex Rescue by Gregoire, Lindenbach, & Sawatsky

 


   Book Review

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 Sex God: Exploring The Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob Bell  

Read Review




 Sex Texts from the Bible: Selections Annotated & Explained by Teresa J. Hornsby  


Read Review


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Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire

by Jennifer Wright Knust  

Read Review

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Key Words

Sex and Morality, Sexuality and Morality, Sex and Christian Cultures, Bible and Sex,

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Authentic Human Sexuality - A Book Review

 Authentic Human Sexuality            

An Integrated Christian Approach

 

By

   Judith K. Balswick

   Jack O. Balswick

Reviewed by

   Geoffrey W. Sutton



The Balswicks provide a primer on human sexuality for evangelical readers. They draw on scientific research and integrate those findings with a Christian worldview. In contrast to authentic sexuality in the context of relationships, they illustrate inauthentic sexuality in terms of harassment, pornography, and rape. I read their book in the context of writing A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures (2016).

The book is divided into four parts. The first part reviews human sexuality. They opine that “all human beings struggle with their sexual nature and come short of the sexual wholeness that God intended (p. 14).” They advocate readers approach the subject with “humility and compassion.” They present authentic sexuality as that which is ‘real, genuine, believable, and trustworthy.” Part one continues with information on sexuality and child development. Their theological discussion refers to being created in the image of God and they affirm sexuality as a part of God’s created work. At the end of this part, the authors write about “homosexuality*.” They review related terms and the history of same-sex attraction. In their concluding chapter, they refer to biblical references to “homosexual behavior.” They review research on sexual orientation and lead readers to the conclusion that “homosexual orientation…is not a simple matter of choice (p. 134).” Their chapter and part one concludes with the following statement.

Even though we hold to the model of a heterosexual, lifelong, monogamous union, our compassion brings us to support all Christians who pursue God’s direction for their lives. (p. 136).

In Part two, the authors present their view of authentic sexuality. They discuss singlehood and sexuality and offer some principles to respect dating partners. The issue of virginity arises in this dating context: “While one can never erase the  past, single persons can always reaffirm their virginity and recommit themselves to celibacy again. (p. 159). Following a discussion of cohabitation, they write about marital sexuality—the chapter subtitle is explanatory, “Maximizing Sexual Fulfillment.” Problems arise for couples thus, the examine the “causes and consequences” of extramarital sex. This chapter includes the possibility of healing a relationship and guidelines to prevent an affair.

Inauthentic sexuality is the focus of Part three. The topic of sexual harassment is presented from the perspective of balancing motives and actions. They do not condone sexual harassment but encourage concern for victims and perpetrators. The next chapter focuses on sexual abuse, the harmful impact on victims, and the importance of ministry. Problems of rape and sexual violence are identified in a separate chapter. The last two chapters deal with porn and sexual addiction.

**********

Authentic Human Sexuality offers a segment of evangelical Christians a way to embrace their sexuality within a context that blends Christian teaching and behavioral science findings. They avoid the views of more conservative evangelicals who take a stronger stance favoring sexual purity outside of marriage and preach against same-sex relationships. They also avoid the wider embrace of diversity presented by progressive Christians. Some of the older language in this text may be off-putting to the generation of 2020, but this may be remedied in their 2019 edition.

I can see how this book would be useful in evangelical colleges and universities. What might make the book better would be a more in-depth look at the emotional components of sexuality, a greater appreciation of neuroscience, concerns about birth control and abortion, and an appreciation of psychopathology.

********** 

* Homosexuality. I placed the term in quotes because it is the term used by the authors for what we might now refer to as people who identify as LGBTQ+; however, their use is not exactly the same as the diverse gender identity found in LGBTQ+.

********** 

The Authors

Judith K. Balswick (EdD, University of Chicago) is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She has taught in the marriage and family program at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Jack O. Balswick (PhD, University of Iowa) is a senior professor of sociology and family development at Fuller Theological Seminary.

 References

Balswick, J, K. & Balswick, J.O. (2008). Authentic human sexuality: An integrated Christian approach, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. (Link to 3rd Edition)

Sutton, G. W. (2016). A House Divided: Sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.

 

Links to Connections

Checkout My Page    www.suttong.com

  

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

God and Sex by Michael Coogan- A Book Review

 God and Sex

What the Bible Really Says  

By

   Michael Coogan  2010

Reviewed by

   Geoffrey W. Sutton




Coogan sets the stage for a biblical view of sex by citing the popularity of the Bible in US society--over 90% of us have "The Book." He challenges readers who believe the Bible is simply "God's Word" rather than a collection of works by multiple authors to consider some obvious inconsistencies easily recognized by anyone who has taken the time to read the text. Coogan want readers to see the unfolding of the biblical message in ways that allows a nuanced approach to modern life. Thus, he will write about women as equals, sexual prohibitions, and the stories of rape.

Chapter 1

We begin with an invitation to see the biblical past as life in a foreign country with a different language, culture and values. He quickly shows readers love and sex through the eyes of the Song of Solomon. Then opens readers' eyes to biblical sex by lifting the veil of euphemisms. Soon, sex is everywhere. And we begin to hear women's voices.

Chapter 2

It is still common in Christianity to find only male leaders in Christian churches and organizations. Coogan provides several examples of the subordinate role of women in the Bible. He even shows us what a woman was worth by age. The highest value was 30 shekels of silver compared to 50 for men in the age group 20 to 60. This is based on the redemption vows. There's more here. We learn about widows, virgins, and the roles of women in public and the home.

Chapter 3

In this chapter, Coogan looks at marriage and divorce. Abortion and polygamy fit here. There are no comments on abortion and birth control in a culture where children are valuable assets. Infant mortality is a horrific 50% based on some estimates. Coogan explains the familiar pro-choice argument about ending pregnancies and shows the problem with the poets recognition of life in the womb. Following comments on polygamy, Coogan looks at the restrictions on divorce explained in the context of Jewish culture and law.

Chapter 4

Here we learn about forbidden relationships like adultery, incest, and rape. An important reminder to moderns is an understanding of women as a man's property. Incest is of course part of the list of forbidden relationships. The value of a virgin daughter to her father is a noteworthy point of ancient culture. Next Coogan offers his take on same-sex sexuality. He offers the cultural context for the disapproval and challenges modern moralists to consider their views about same sex-sex prohibitions in view of culture and their inconsistent stance on other moral matters.

Chapter 5

This essay is about rape and prostitution. The familiar Bible stories are revisited. We learn the oft told stories of righteous prostitutes like Tamar and Rahab, but we also see how they were marginalized.

Chapter 6

Coogan introduces ideas about God and his wives and the problem of polytheism in ancient Israel. We know Israel was warned by the biblical writers of metaphorical adultery in their pursuit of other Gods. Coogan reminds readers that ancient cultures told stories about gods having relations with humans. And he finds evidence for these beliefs in the Scriptures.

**********

I quoted Coogan's work in A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures to help readers appreciate various interpretations of scriptures dealing with contemporary issues like sexual abuse, abortion, and the role of women.

Coogan's work overlaps with other similar books aimed at helping Christians be careful with their moral proclamations. Frankly, I doubt many Christians will take the time to peruse alternative interpretations of their firm beliefs about biblical marriage and sex as presented by their clergy and in books by evangelicals. Nevertheless, Coogan's work is well documented and offers a cautionary message to modern zealots even as it helps readers appreciate an ancient culture so distant in time from our own.

Sex Topics: adultery, marriage, divorce, homoeroticism, pregnancy and abortion, women, biblical language about sex

Religious focus: The Hebrew Bible / Christian Old Testament

References

Coogan, M.D. (2010). God and sex: What the bible really says.  New York: Twelve.

Sutton, G. W. (2016). A House Divided: Sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures. Eugene, OR: Pickwick. ISBN: 9781498224888


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My Page    www.suttong.com

  

My Books  AMAZON          and             GOOGLE STORE

 

FOLLOW   FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton

 

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Related Posts

 Sex Texts by Hornsby

The Moral Teaching of Paul by Furnish

Sex God by Bell





Thursday, August 29, 2019

Unprotected Texts by Jennifer Knust Book Review by Sutton


UNPROTECTED TEXTS
The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions  
about Sex and Desire

Author:  Jennifer Wright Knust

Date: 2011

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton





Knust’s book, Unprotected Texts, has an intriguing title for anyone thinking about the sex-related moral issues constantly in the news. I purchased a copy of her book as I was writing A House Divided:Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures, and I’m glad I did because I referenced some of her insights.

Knust has impressive credentials. At the time she wrote Unprotected Texts, Knust had a Ph.D., from Columbia University and was an Associate Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Boston University School of Theology. She’s also an ordained American Baptist pastor.

Unprotected Texts is a well written book, which addresses biblical sex in six chapters with primary titles that do not easily identify the subject matter until you’ve read a few pages. 

In this review, I’ll provide a summary, then add some thoughts at the end of this review.

**********

The Bible and the Joy of Sex (chapter 1) introduces us to texts that celebrate sex outside of marriage—an obvious contrast to the interpretations offered to evangelical youth. Knust offers us the graphic imagery in The Song (aka Song of Solomon) as evidence of biblical erotica expressed in the relationship between two unmarried lovers. We also glimpse Ruth’s seduction of Boaz and King David’s infamous extramarital affair with Bathsheba. As Knust concludes, “…the passages considered in this chapter suggest that nonmarital desire can be both limitless and productive.” (Kindle Locations 871-872)

Anyone reading the Bible knows ancient men in many cultures had many wives. Chapter 2 is about biblical marriage. If you follow American news, you know Christian evangelicals have worked hard at establishing a cultural norm that legal marriage ought to be between one man and one woman. Knust takes us through several texts to make the point that biblical women were the property of the men in their families. Not surprisingly, the story begins with Adam and Eve, but we have no specific commandments about marriage until we get to the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Here we are reminded of the high value placed on a woman’s virginity, Israelite rules governing slave women and their families, and the rights of fathers, husbands, and slave owners with respect to women. Next, Knust reviews the various New Testament teachings on marriage and divorce. I found Table 1 particularly useful because she provides details comparing the similarities and differences among the gospel writers.

It’s no secret that evangelical preachers and conservative theologies have warned congregants about sexual immorality. In chapter 3, The Evil Impulse, Knust examines Disordered and Ordered Desire. The chapter opens with a discussion of Paul’s advice to the Corinthians about the value of celibacy— provided people have self-control—otherwise, they ought to marry. In Corinthians 6, Paul communicates the horrid consequences of missing out of the kingdom of God as a penalty for engaging in sexual immorality. Knust examines Paul’s language in the context of Greco-Roman culture. She reminds readers of Paul’s expectation of Jesus’ soon return and the later writings that emphasize authoritative control of people and their passions through household structures (e.g., Ephesians, 1 Timothy). By the end of the chapter we have learned that the early Christians wrestled with the same issues as those in the Roman culture concerning appropriate ways for men to manage their sexual desire.

Chapter 4 is about Sexual Politics. The Old Testament writers condemn enemy tribes using the language of sex and idolatry—the outsiders are prostitutes. Purity and holiness are values reflected in the rules about sex. Prohibitions against incest is one example of biblical attention to detail about what constituted a sex crime. Despite the attacks on the evil of their neighbors, we see that the Israelites were guilty of the same sexual sins.

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Chapter 5 is perhaps the strangest, Strange Flesh. Here we are reminded of that quizzical old text about the sons of God having sex with earthly women (Genesis 6). Knust traces the history of the relationships between heavenly beings and those of earth. This exploration takes us to the much-quoted story of Sodom and the men who wanted to rape Lot’s heavenly guests. And we see this angel-human relationship story pop up centuries later in Jude and 2 Peter. We now return to the stories of Sodom and the Levite’s Concubine (Judges 19). We learn of several lessons that may be taken from these stories—especially the importance of showing high respect for one’s guests (i.e., hospitality norms). We also see the concern of biblical writers for crossing sexual boundaries between humans and supernatural beings, which is in contrast to the recent interpretations about male homosexuality. Appropriate sexual boundaries are also the topic of texts dealing with foreign tribes as seen in the rape of Dinah (Genesis 34).

I’d call Chapter 6 miscellaneous topics. Bodily Parts includes a review of biblical voices about Circumcision, Semen, and the Products of a Woman’s Womb. The history of circumcision and its role in separating one culture from another is interesting—especially when we see the considerations of the early churchmen regarding what gentile converts ought to do. Next, Knust reviews the rules about purification from bodily discharges and the different paths to becoming clean so that one may enter God’s holy place. At the end of this chapter, Knust observes the difficulty in applying ancient interpretations of bodily discharges to contemporary life.

In her conclusion, Knust expresses concern about biblical interpretations that demean a group of people or form the basis for denying rights to people. The book’s end matter includes an extensive bibliography and an index.

Some Thoughts

I recommend Unprotected Texts to Christians who want to learn more about the perspectives of ancient Israelites regarding human sexuality and the righteous life. 

Knust’s work joins others in emphasizing the diverse voices within the biblical texts as well as a cacophony of interpretations by biblical scholars and authoritarian clergy. Although published nearly a decade ago, the book remains relevant to contemporary discussions about laws and policies attempting to control human sexual desire. That is, the Bible contains much evidence that regardless of laws, human beings have a hard time controlling their sexual desires.

I would certainly recommend this book to students who are researching various views on sex and gender-linked topics. The book is relevant to understanding people’s views about sex and gender in any nation where Christian teaching has been influential in their laws and cultural norms.

Knust’s view of the Bible as a collection of works by many men with different views about how godly people ought to behave is common among biblical scholars. However, the view is not common among evangelical Christians—especially those who lean heavily toward a fundamentalist (near literal) interpretation of most texts. Reading translations of old texts out of their historical context is a danger. Readers may surely disagree with Knust, but I think her voice is worth hearing—especially when Christians want to claim they have the correct interpretation of the Bible and wish to create restrictive laws based on their interpretation.

Sex topics: Women as property, virginity, celibacy, prostitutes, rape, supernatural beings-human sex, same-sex acts, circumcision

Religious perspective: General Christian but not evangelical


 References


Sutton, G. W. (2016). A house divided: Sexuality,morality, and Christian cultures. Eugene, OR: Pickwick. ISBN: 9781498224888


Related Posts

Sex and Religion / Christianity Book List

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